Friday, November 18, 2005

Sweet-talking councillor?

The hearing of the Adjudication Panel of the Standards Board.

The hearing started late at 10.50 a.m. There was a three member adjudication panel, chaired by a solicitor. Two ex local
government councillors sat beside her. The prosecution had a barrister (or solicitor). Julie Wheeldon sat with her barrister.
The latter tried to get some of the charges withdrawn at the outset and generally tried to string out proceedings. The
chairperson allowed her and the prosecution much leeway. But for the late start and this, all would have been completed by 5 p.m.

After the objections had been largely dismissed, Mike Goater, District Planning engineer, was called. Later, Brian Hawkins
from the Belle Vue Residents Group, was called and , later still, Julie Wheeldon.

The panel have not yet considered some written evidence, or made their judgement, and will reconvene before Christmas.

The case centres around two issues :-

(1) the use of foul language to council employees and others by a District Councillor and consequent implications of bullying.

(2) the lack of observation of the code of conduct for councillors resulting from Julie Wheeldon’s refusal to distinguish
between her interests as a resident of Durlston Cliffs and her position as a District Councillor.

With regard to issue (1), she was upset by the contents of the first draft of the report from High Point Rendel (HPR) when it
was published in February, 2003. On February 10th, she entered Mike Goater’s office at P.D.C. and said that she wanted the
report to be adjusted. All references to property values and all reference to the Durlston Cliffs block of flats must be removed. Her concern was that possible problems in obtaining insurance and mortgages would affect the values of the properties. If the HPR engineer thought that the landslip caused any risk to Durlston Cliffs, then he was a ‘f******g w****r’. Similarly, if Mike Goater thought that there was a risk to the property, then he too was a ‘f*****g w****r’. On August 18 th , she called Roger Garwood and Mike Goater aside after a meeting in Swanage Town Hall about beach Recharge. She told them that she did not like what was in the second HPR report draft. She was angry and called them both ‘a*******s’. Julie Wheeldon denies using these words and the use of bad language on the first occasion. With regard to the second, she denies that the meeting ever took place.

With regard to issue (2), she is accused of abusing her position as a councillor in trying to get a report changed before it was formally published. She says that she was always acting as a resident of Durlston Cliffs except in Council meeting, when she declared an interest. With regard to the Belle Vue Action Group, who say that she was also rude to them, she says that she met them as a resident. They say that they invited her to meet them because she was a District Councillor and that they were desperate to get something done about the landslip of December 2000.

The above is necessarily a very brief summary of the day’s proceedings before the hearing was adjourned at 4.45 p.m.

see also page 10 of http://www.purbeck-gazette.co.uk/
and also original PDC report http://swanageview.blogspot.com/2004_10_01_swanageview_archive.html

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thats my Girl Julie.... Thats my Girl...Breath of fresh air,,,Hope they realise they have a real jewel in their midst!

Could it be that they are that delicate?

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like she is trying to demonstrate her credentials for being put in charge of the PDC culture policy, or rather its anti-culture policy. Who better to tell all those disgusting bohemians who still think public money should be spent on the arts where to get off?

Anonymous said...
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The Postman said...

It's interesting that no reference is made to anything wrong about trying to have official documents altered..

New To Old said...

I worked in local government from October 1965 to July 2003 and this story is just another example of the poor working relationships between some Councillors and some usually senior (but not always) officers. I know this kind of thing goes on and find it hard to believe that the officer concerned would make this allegation without good cause.

I know of a Development Control that's planning for most people)Officer who, when working for one of the London Borough Councils, was called a "liar" at a public committee meeting by a Councillor. When he threatened to sue for slander, the Councillor concerned wrote a private letter of apology (NB the accuastion was public but the appology was not). This happened at least twice. At least the Chief Executive of this particular London Borough had the guts to sort it out and admonish the Councillor - who, sad to say, still serves (with a pitifully low mandate) some years later.

Anyone who thinks that Councillors who are bullies have something great about them should be questioned seriously about what they think local government and local democracy is about and perhaps what their motives for such public service really are.

I wouldn't want anyone like that (regardless of their politics) to represent my interests. The electorate of the appropriate Ward should think carefully at the next election - especially when it takes so few votes to ellect a Councillor.